The Secret to Perfect Homemade Pumpkin Puree

The canned stuff will do in a pinch, but you won't believe the rich flavor and velvety texture that homemade puree gives pies, cakes and puddings. Read on for our tried and true method -- and don't you dare skip a step.

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1 sugar pumpkin (3 1/2 to 4 pounds)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Snap off the pumpkin's stem and halve the gourd lengthwise. With a spoon or melon baller, remove seeds and rinse for roasting or discard.

2. Place pumpkin halves cut-side down on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until tender, about 1 hour.

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3. When cool enough to handle, scoop out cooked pumpkin flesh; discard skin. Transfer pumpkin flesh to a food processor; process until smooth.

4. Set a colander in a large bowl and line with a double-layer of cheesecloth. Place pumpkin puree in cheesecloth. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to drain, at least 4 hours, and up to 3 days.

Cook's Note: Kept in the freezer, the puree will last for up to 6 months.

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